By Jeff Lehr
The Missouri State Highway Patrol discovered a cache of cocaine Thursday in a semi-truck at the Joplin weigh station on Interstate 44, one day before a New Jersey man caught passing through Jasper County in March with more than 10 pounds of heroin pleaded guilty in federal court.
Another month, another big drug bust on I-44, what law enforcement officials consider one of the principal corridors for drug trafficking in the United States.
“Something just wasn’t right,” Sgt. Kent Casey of the state patrol said Friday of a commercial vehicle enforcement officer’s suspicions regarding an eastbound truck driver who was stopped at the weigh station for a fuel tax violation at 6:05 p.m. Thursday.
The officer called for a state trooper and the trooper obtained consent from the driver to search his semi-truck for drugs or weapons, Casey said.
Under the bottom bunk in the sleeper compartment of the truck’s cab, the trooper allegedly found a large duffel bag containing about 24 kilo-sized bundles of cocaine. Casey said the bundles had been covered in axle grease and wrapped tightly in cellophane to inhibit detection by drug-sniffing dogs. He said those who transport drugs across the country by vehicles often use axle grease, coffee grounds, dryer sheets and other materials in an effort to mask the smell.
The driver, identified as Barrios Benjamin Perez, 46, of San Diego, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree trafficking in drugs, Casey said. Perez was taken to the Greene County Jail in Springfield, and the case was turned over to Drug Enforcement Administration agents for pursuit of federal charges.
Casey said investigators remain uncertain where Perez may have picked up the shipment.
“He’s not telling us that, and he’s not telling us where he was going,” he said.
By Jeff Lehr
- Carthage, Jasper County
State budget cuts reduce county funds
County officials are bracing for more state budget cuts to translate into a loss of county revenues.
In an effort to balance Missouri’s budget, the state earlier this year cut the amount it reimburses county assessors for work to determine property values. The budget approved by lawmakers for fiscal 2011 calls for cutting the amount the state reimburses counties to house prisoners bound for state lockup.
Jo Ellis: County home to rare yellowwood tree
In late spring, drifts as white as snow fill the gutters and curbs on the east side of the Jasper County Courthouse. It isn’t snow, of course; it’s the fallen petals of the yellowwood tree that grows squarely in front of the door to the Jasper County Extension office.
Jasper County Commission gets building project update
Plans to close out one building project and start another were reviewed by the Jasper County Commission last week.
Darieus Adams, Western District associate commissioner, met Thursday with officials of the firm who designed a $292,400 project to upgrade the lighting and make other changes to make four county-owned buildings more energy efficient.
Two men running for associate judge in 39th Circuit take case to court
Two men running for associate judge in Missouri’s 39th Circuit began battling it out in a Jasper County courtroom this week.
Jasper County Circuit Judge Gayle Crane heard arguments Wednesday concerning the disclosure of documents sought by Robert “Bobby” George, Aurora, the current Lawrence County prosecutor.
Unveiling ceremony celebrates CHS tiger
Kandy Frazier, Carthage High School principal, summed it up once the new addition to the CHS campus was unveiled Thursday.
The bronze tiger sculpture created by Carthage artist and sculptor Bob Tommey, she said, is the kind of work that would be found at a big university.
Carthage sheltered workshop employees protest manager
Workers at Innovative Industries in Carthage ended a walkout Tuesday after protesting the hiring of a new general manager to oversee the sheltered workshop.
Carthage hot rod bound for Australia
Don and Rosemary Going’s 79-year-old Chevy pickup has enough life left in it for one more journey. It will be a doozy of a trip, though. The 1931 truck, modified as a hot rod, will begin this week traveling halfway around the world, to the land Down Under.
Historic homes offer challenges, but most owners have no regrets
When Marty Ann and Ron Petersen Jr. still lived in Ron’s boyhood home, they would walk through the historic neighborhoods for which Carthage is famous.
“We kept saying, ‘One day, we’re going to live in one of these big houses,’” Marty Ann recalled.
Unveiling ceremony to bring sculpture to Carthage High
When it is unveiled Thursday at its Carthage High School home, it will be the end of a long journey for the Carthage tiger crafted by artist and sculptor Bob Tommey.
Tommey envisioned the sculpture and built support for it at football games, Maple Leaf parades and other events.
Time running out for bill regulating adult businesses
Southwest Missouri residents who have been battling an adult video store and spa near Sarcoxie want action this week on legislation that would regulate sexually oriented businesses in the state.
A bill has been passed by the Missouri Senate and is set for final action in the House.
- More Carthage, Jasper County Headlines
- State budget cuts reduce county funds